Friday, 23 December 2011

Pingu’s release is permanently postponed!

Hello again!

Just time for one more story before the festive season begins …

As one of the more senior members of the dog family at the IAR centre, I feel I have some status and a certain claim to fame. But there is a grand old lady who is well and truly part of the history of International Animal Rescue Goa. To introduce her, first I have to go back in time:

Way back in 1997 the seeds of the Goa branch were sown by two young travellers, Hayley and Nicola, who had a passion for animal welfare and were moved by the plight of the packs of sick and starving dogs breeding out of control on the streets and beaches. The situation was awful, many animals had rabies and packs of dogs were fighting for territory and bitches. The girls set up a humble site in Saligao with a few makeshift cages under a palm leaf roof.

Dog Rescue Rehabilitation GoaInternational Animal Rescue in the UK sent out Bet, the first veterinary surgeon to work for IAR in Goa and so began the sterilisation and rabies vaccination programme that has evolved to become IAR Goa as we know it today.

The present Animal Tracks centre here in Assagao was set up by John and Jo Hicks in 1998 in order that the work could expand and grow to embrace all of Goa's animals in need, feral, wild or domestic, and the rest is history …

But just before the new centre was opened and the work still took place at the first simple site, an ear tattoo identification system was introduced to keep track and record of the dogs that were sterilised.

A young healthy female dog, but with a birth deformed front leg, was sterilised. Recovery cages were full to capacity with animals that would shortly be released back into the wild. But, much like me when I was rescued from the streets, this little dog would need extra aftercare if she was to have a viable life. The heart of an animal lover visiting the rescue centre was touched by meeting this young dog with her twisted and flipper-like leg which would always render her disabled to a degree.

Karin decided she could assist with aftercare and offered to take her home until the dog had recovered sufficiently to be released.

That was in 1998 and Pingu was number 46 on the tattoo records, today IAR Goa is proud to declare that its sterilisation numbers are now in excess of 58,000!

Almost fourteen years on, Pingu's release is still being "postponed" and she is still happily "rehabilitating" at the same foster home with her carer. Karin is now a champion of animal welfare here in Goa and still works closely with the brilliant Animal Tracks team and the cat and dog sterilisation legend that the centre is today.

Happy Christmas from all of us here in Goa – particularly Pingu!

Love Olive x

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Two’s company, three’s even better when it comes to cats at Christmas!

Hello, hello!

Here’s a sweet story for the festive season …

International Animal Rescue Goa Orphaned KittensA few weeks ago two tiny orphaned brother and sister kittens arrived at Animal Tracks. They were so small and vulnerable that their chances of survival were deemed slim. But long term IAR supporters and good Samaritans Karin and Habiba who work constantly to help the cats here in Goa, stepped in to offer intensive care and nurturing at the sanctuary run by Karin. Hundreds of felines have found permanent loving homes with local families thanks to Karin's tireless crusade to help the cat population and her close association with International Animal Rescue Goa.

At roughly the same time when the kittens were taken in, in a nearby village Smokey lost his long-time brother and life in his house was not the same. As a solo cat he missed his companion and became depressed. Smokey's owner Melwyn decided he could offer a home to a small kitten as a friend for Smokey, so he contacted International Animal Rescue to ask if there were any suitable waifs needing a home.

The two kittens were thriving, thanks to all the special care they were receiving, and soon became strong and healthy enough to move on. As it would be so distressing to split them up, it was thought kinder that they be adopted together and they were suggested for Melwyn and Smokey.

Animal Rescue GoaSoon the happy day came when the kittens were delivered to their new home by IAR volunteers. Smokey took to them with no problem and soon all three were scampering around the house together. Everyone decided on the kittens’ names and Mouse and Ripley Lobo have now taken up happy residence in the heart of a loving family and will undoubtedly have a blissful Christmas and long and happy lives.

And of course, as IAR adoptees, Mouse and Ripley have been vaccinated, they will receive a year’s free veterinary care and have scheduled appointments for their sterilisation in a few months’ time: all part of the wonderful service International Animal Rescue provides!

Bye for now :)

Olive x

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Brownie, the Brigadier and things that go bang in the night!

Hello dear friends,

We animals will never understand the pleasure you humans gain from fireworks and crackers, and unfortunately some people do not consider the absolute terror that these explosive celebrations bring to domestic animals and wildlife. Here in Goa we have year round fireworks but recently we've had to endure both Ganesh and Diwali Festivals in quick succession.

At this time of the year, then again at Christmas and New Year, Animal Tracks has an extra influx of lost and traumatised animals and also owners searching the kennels for their terrified runaway pets.

Brownie Lost Rescue Dog GoaAfter Ganesh, as the fireworks were still smouldering in the streets and countryside, a stray dog arrived at the house of an animal lover who has a long association with International Animal Rescue in Goa. Her own dogs had alerted her that there was an intruder at the gate where she found a beautiful green eyed dog that refused to leave despite the protests of her own pack. It was as if the dog somehow knew that this person cared and would help him, as indeed she did.

Dogs that are adopted from Animal Tracks are tattooed with an identification number which is kept on file. And as this lost boy had one such tattoo, he was brought to Animal Tracks to be checked over and identified. Apart from being a little worried and thin he appeared to be in good condition and the tattoo number was checked against the records. The IAR stored documents supplied all the necessary information, including the date of adoption way back in 2005, sterilisation, vaccination and, more importantly in this case, the name and details of the owner.

IAR's Abby eagerly made the phone call. A retired gentleman by the name of Brigadier Ian da Costa confirmed that yes he had once owned a large brown dog with soft green eyes but sadly we must be mistaken as his beloved Brownie had been missing for the best part of three years after he'd got frightened and run off during the 2008 Christmas fireworks.

Brigadier da Costa had of course searched relentlessly for his dear friend but had been forced eventually to give up and presume that the dog had somehow died or in military terms was ‘missing in action.’ But even after all these years and months the Brigadier still grieved for Brownie and always wondered what had become of his best friend. He had only recently destroyed Brownie's adoption papers as he had found them too sad a reminder.

He was still doubtful that his dog had actually been found after such a long time, but when the vehicle taking him home pulled up at the Brigadier's house Brownie instantly knew exactly where he was. The best friends were happily reunited with much joyous hugging and plenty of tail wagging from Brownie!

I'm delighted to report this lovely happy ending thanks to IAR's tattooing policy and ironically also thanks to fireworks, as the recent Ganesh crackers had probably caused Brownie to panic and run again, but on this occasion the terror had eventually led him back home.

Brigadier da Costa has vowed that from now on Brownie will spend all future festival nights safely indoors.

So all you humans around the world, please be aware before the seasonal celebrations begin that we animals need to be kept safe and sound and spared all the big bangs and bright lights.

Happy festive fireworks!

Love from Olive x

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Shep beats the odds

Dear friends,

Everyone at Animal Tracks is proud of the amount of successful adoptions that regularly take place but generally those chosen animals fall into the cute and cuddly category. It's never easy taking on a disabled or sick animal that will need long term intensive care but for those who do these prove to be rewarding partnerships. Sometimes a human and an animal just mesh together and looks and condition have no bearing on the relationship and bond that forms.

Rescued dog Animal Tracks GoaAn Indian lady who has lived and worked in Finland had come to Goa to sort out the final details of her new home here where she is soon to retire. Whilst she was organising her imminent move she stayed in a hotel in one of the nearby coastal resorts. Beneath her balcony each day she noticed a dog in such a sorry state who looked up at her and touched her heart. She began to feed him and realised the extent of his poor condition.

She was already aware of IAR and the amazing work carried out at Animal Tracks so Shep, as she named the dog, was brought to the centre where the vets could assess him and decide what could be done to help. Poor Shep, although not an old dog, had obviously fallen on hard times and most of his once long coat was matted or missing and his entire body was covered in sores and mange.

Rescued dog Animal Tracks GoaAn old injury to a front leg would sadly permanently render him disabled but Shep had the brightest face and loveliest soft trusting eyes and despite whatever he'd been through, he still had faith in humans. It was decided that he should be admitted to Animal Tracks and receive intensive care and regular good food and affection. He had the best medication and enjoyed regular baths to sooth his skin and help relieve the irritation.

The lady returned to Finland in order to finalise her affairs there, but not before pledging to return for Shep and take him to live with her in her new home for the rest of his life which will no doubt be a very happy one. For the time being Shep is being pampered while he recuperates at a temporary foster home with one of IAR's long term supporters, but he will soon be reunited with this special individual who mercifully could not turn away and see him alone and suffering.

Olive x

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Introducing the Civet Sisters

Hello everyone!

Meet two cute baby orphans that were recently brought in to us here at Animal Tracks after being rescued by the Forestry Department of Goa. IAR has long had a close working relationship with the Forestry Department and because the vets here have great success in raising small wild orphans, they knew we'd welcome the civet kittens for short term care. Then, when they are able to forage for food and fend for themselves, we will bid them a fond goodbye and they will be released back into the jungle.

The civets – aka “toddy cats” - are undeniably cute. But they need to remain as wild as possible so that their successful transition back to the wild is not jeopardised by domestication. So the staff are not handling them unless they absolutely have to. At least these two kittens have each other for company and are not lost single babies.

Civet kittens Animal Tracks GoaCivets will eat almost anything, including insects and small rodents, but have a voracious appetite for berries and soft fruit. They are agile and great tree climbers equipped with powerful claws, sharp teeth and a feline appearance. But civets are actually far closer relatives to mongoose than any species of wild cat. They love to drink the palm flower sap which is locally fermented to produce a potent alcohol called toddy, hence their more common local name as toddy cats.

When back in the wild the civet sisters will need to be vigilant and quick as civets are prey to many other wild animals including snakes and crocodiles, but the main threat to the survival of the species could eventually come from man as increasing deforestation is resulting in less natural habitat for civets and many other creatures.

This would be a sad irony as, by way of seed dispersal and propagation of new vegetation, these lovely little animals are efficient maintainers of the precious ecosystem.

So for now the sisters will remain with us as an exotic addition to the stream of temporary guests that find sanctuary here at Animal Tracks but pretty soon they'll be released to live and breed and play their roles in the natural beautiful balance of life in the Goan jungle.

That’s all from me!

Bye for now!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Pigs in clover

Hello dear friends

From time to time over the past couple of years there's been an update on our resident brother and sister pigs. They came to the centre in May 2009 as gorgeous, tiny piglets who had lost their mother.

Pigs leave Animal Tracks for new homeThey were adopted, but sadly circumstances led them to come back to us and since then they have been happy and contented in their own special enclosure, close to all the daily activity near reception where they have become very popular members of our extended family and provided much interest and amusement to centre visitors - and everyone else too come to that!

But now for the latest! Recently an IAR supporter expressed an interest in the pigs. She lives in the Indian state of Pune and has eight acres of protected land where she allows a variety of rescued animals to live in peace and freedom. It seemed like a dream come true for the lovely pair, although they have been very happy as centre residents. Nevertheless, the opportunity to roam free and safe whilst still being cared for and loved was simply too good to miss.

So it is a bittersweet story that leads us all at Animal Tracks to be saying a very fond farewell to the porky pair and wishing them all the very best in their wonderful new life. We're going to miss having them around, that’s for sure!

Bye for now!

Olive x

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A fond farewell to two dear friends

A somber 'hello' from me today. It's a sad fact that as time goes by we are all likely to lose a dear friend.

SubwayMost permanent centre animals come to stay with us because they are old or sick and have no other place to go, so it's understandable that from time to time someone passes away. But recent days have been touched with a double sadness as we not only had to withstand the sad loss of young Subway, our newest pack member, who passed away too soon after a battle with a disease that caused his organs to shut down, but this was also quickly followed by the death of dear old Plucky who was probably the oldest amongst the live-in dogs, and had spent her latter years in comfort.

PluckySubway had only been at the centre for less than a year but was a very special and well loved member of the family and also the official boyfriend of the infamous Peggy.

Plucky came to Animal Tracks many years ago. She had lost an eye and was already old and quite lame then, so she was taken in as a centre dog to be looked after for the rest of her days.

Both of these dear friends will be greatly missed by us all, but it's a comforting fact that, however short or long an animal's life is, if they are a member of the Animal Tracks gang there is no better place they could be.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Proud mother Mary gets a helping hand

Hello dear friends. Just when you thought I'd deserted you forever, I’m back and bursting with news!

Mary and Mini the baby goat who survivedThere's always something different happening at Animal Tracks and we never know what wonderful creature in need of help will arrive next. This week I was privileged to witness an event that was sad then happy in quick succession, right here in the reception area where I spend my time meeting and greeting everyone.

When the natural delivery of her kid hit serious complications and became a life-threatening situation, the owner of Mary the pregnant goat had the quick thinking and care to rush her into the centre.

Baby goat MiniWhen she arrived, the distressed goat was immediately seen by the duty vets. Their expertise in such cases without doubt saved Mary's life, as her kid was in the wrong birth position and it was quite likely that one or both animals would not survive. So right there on the spot the team sprang into action in order to save Mary as she lay on the reception floor.

Sadly though the kid was stillborn. But then sadness turned to joy as very soon there were signs that the drama was not yet over: there was another kid arriving and this one thankfully was very healthy and delivered smoothly. She was the perfect, tiny image of her mother.

Without the prompt, professional intervention of the IAR team all three animals would have undoubtedly died, so it was just amazing to be there to witness the birth of Mini and her first meeting with her proud mother Mary.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Peggy falls for a tall handsome stranger

Hello my friends,

It's been a while I know since I was last in touch - and all it's done since then is rain, rain, rain!

Peggy enjoying the extra attentionIt's mid monsoon now and of course the day to day routines and emergencies at Animal Tracks continue despite the weather. But with so much mud and torrential rain, my friend Peggy has had to curtail her usual manic racing around and concentrate on more sedate indoor activities to keep her occupied and amused.

So whilst spending the wet season mainly lounging around in the office, reception and staff room, a slower-paced Peggy has had time to get to know the latest recruit to the centre dogs: a tall handsome young male dog who'd arrived in a sorry state with a broken leg. Some kind tourists brought him to the centre after spotting him in trouble outside Subway restaurant in Baga. With expert care from the vets and plenty of rest the break soon healed, but then came the problem of not knowing where he'd come from and where to drop him back. The team went back to the busy resort and showed photos of Subway to all the shop keepers and restaurant workers but no one recognised him despite his distinctive looks and stature.

Peggy and Subway playing togetherSo, as Subway had no place to go back to, it was decided he could stay and become one of the very fortunate animals that gets to have a permanent home at Animal Tracks.

This gentle giant of a dog was soon to make an impression on Peggy who is always on the look out for some fun. And as Peggy's special friend, Subway was quickly accepted by the others into the resident pack. Now the pair are never far from each other's sides and spend the long monsoon days with romantic mutual grooming sessions or wrestling around and generally getting in everyone's way as they roll around in play. Subway easily outweighs Peggy but he has the good sense to let her win most of their play fights: she may be in love but she still likes to be the boss!

As for me, I’m just happy watching them playing together: after all they’ve been through, they deserve some fun!

Love + woofs,

Olive x

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Henri the Kingfisher

Hello hello!

Here at Animal tracks we seem to have had quite a few feathered friends visiting us lately. Our most recent temporary guest was young Henri the kingfisher.

Henri the Kingfisher was tinyHe came into the care of Animal Tracks as yet another tiny, lost and vulnerable baby who would surely have perished left on his own. But thanks to the loving care of the team here he not only survived against all the odds but positively thrived. Everyone helped to look after him but his main carers were Abby and vet Warren. Together they ensured Henri received constant nurturing and was gradually transformed from the awkward looking chick with a huge head into the beautiful bird he has now become.

I'm told kingfishers are quite shy and seldom seen in most of the western world but here in Goa we are blessed to have several varieties living alongside human habitation. Henri is a White Throated variety and they can often be seen around here as a blue flash of colour or patiently sitting on the power lines waiting for prey that can range from insects and fish to small mammals.

Henri the Kingfisher is all grown upI'm very happy to report that Henri has just flown off into his first sunset. There could not have been a better time for him to go as now the dry landscape has been transformed by the nourishing monsoon rains into a lush tropical wetland with an abundance of food to sustain him through his transition back into the wild.

I'm so pleased to share this happy story with you and Henri's flight back to freedom.

So until next time...

Love Olive x

Monday, 20 June 2011

Egu flexes her wings before her flight to freedom

Hello hello,

It's been several weeks now since I first told you about the beautiful young sea eagle that had come to be at Animal Tracks with a broken leg and battered wing. I'm so pleased to tell you that she’s making wonderful progress.

Egu is recovering nicely at our Animal Tracks centreIt turns out that our beautiful bird is a girl and she's fondly known to us all as Egu.

The female of the species is larger than the male and Egu's grown to be absolutely huge as you can see. She's certainly a lot happier than she was at first, and if a bird could smile she'd be grinning!

Egu's broken bones are now fully healed, her feathers grown back and all that remains is to improve on her general fitness and most importantly ensure she is able to fly and make the transition back to the wild where she belongs.

Egu suffered from a broken leg and battered wingThe Animal Tracks team and especially Nikhil, the brilliant vet and orthopaedic expert who pieced this broken bird back together, are now getting her ready for release back into the wild. She needs to gain strength in order to lift off into the air and soar high with the other sea eagles that we are so lucky to have living and nesting here in Goa. I often watch them with envy as they glide and swoop overhead.

So at last lovely Egu is learning how to be an eagle. She arrived at the IAR centre as a fledgling and so probably has no airborne experience whatsoever - other than her first fall from on high and the resulting injuries that brought her to Animal Tracks.

Egu practicing her flight skillsAfter months of slow and patient recuperation it is obvious how much she loves the heat of the sun on her feathers, stretching and flexing her healed leg and gently fanning the warm air beneath her enormous wings.

Little by little she is flying short distances, but the effort soon exhausts her and she makes it known when she is ready to go back into her quarters for a rest and some fish.

But I know everyone is optimistic that before too long our magnificent bird will return to take her place in the wild, soaring high up on the thermals with her own kind. Hopefully she'll meet a mate and have her own chicks to care for... let's hope they have a more successful first flight than their mother when the time comes for them to fly the nest!

Bye for now!

Olive x

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Abandoned Ted has a rosy future ahead!

Hello again dear friends,

Here's a sad story with a happy ending - just the way we like them!

Ted was at first sad and confusedIAR Goa has a set of three "drop off" cages situated in the busy market town of Mapusa. The purpose of the cages is to give people a safe place to leave animals they can no longer care for and so prevent the suffering these poor creatures would undoubtedly endure if they were abandoned elsewhere. The IAR team collects them and brings them back to the rescue centre where everything possible is done to help them. And we resident dogs always play our part, giving them a warm welcome to reassure them that they are among friends.

Ted was one such animal left in a cage at Mapusa market. He was sad and bewildered and very frightened. He undoubtedly couldn't understand why he'd ended up there and feared what would become of him.

Ted and his new carer RoseSafely back at the rescue centre he was fed and cared for and all his physical needs were met. But, in spite of the best efforts of every two- and four-legged member of the family at Animal Tracks, Ted remained depressed and lonely. As he's not a feral dog there was no familiar place he could be returned to. He'd already been sterilised and was probably just a pet somebody decided they no longer wanted or could no longer care for. The only hope for Ted would be if a new home could be found for him where he could receive the love and the individual attention he so desperately needed.

Everyone worked hard to find Ted a home. Volunteers, vets and keepers asked all their contacts and showed photographs and at long last 'a friend of a friend' found a lady that was looking for a companion and Ted seemed to be a suitable candidate.

Ted, all smiles in his new homeRose came along to the IAR centre to visit and at first Ted seemed a little scared and wary and must have wondered once more what was going to happen to him. But, with kindness and soft words from Rose, at last I saw Ted show signs of happiness: his tail gave a hesitant wag now and then and hope appeared on his gorgeous face. They spent some time together and soon the friendship began to form and Rose decided to take Ted home with her.

So now they are beginning their lives together with all the help and guidance from IAR that all adopted animals and their owners are given. We wish Ted and Rose a bundle of happiness and are just so glad that Ted has found a kind and loving home. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

Bye for now!

Olive x

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A piglet named Pocket

Hello dear friends!

One of the lovely things about life here in Goa is that the domestic and farm type animals are in the main entirely free-range. It's quite normal to encounter cows, buffalo, goats and pigs just roaming wherever they choose, and having a very sociable and entirely more natural way of life than most people from the west are accustomed to seeing. It's quite charming to share the roads, markets and even the towns with animals just freely wandering around foraging for food and looking for something of interest to occupy their day.

Pocket the pigletBut sometimes there's a heavy price to pay for this freedom, and Pocket's poor mother became one such casualty. She was killed in a road accident and it's not clear what became of his brothers and sisters but young Pocket was found close by his dead mum.
Mercifully someone thought to bring him to the IAR centre. Poor little mite was just too tiny to be all alone and fending for himself.

Luckily for him, the terrified but otherwise healthy little piglet was taken under the wing of everyone here at the centre. He was given a safe pen and some clean old clothes to snuggle into. But he was still trembling and scared and found sanctuary by burrowing into the pocket of some trousers and just hid in there, only coming out for food.

Pocket the piglet now safeThe staff and volunteers took it in turns to sit with him and encourage him to feed and relax a little after the awful trauma he'd suffered. I stopped by now and then too, to show him he was among friends. But if Pocket were to have a chance in life we all knew he'd need a special person to care for him and bring back his confidence and joy of life.

Then, as often happens in similar uncertain situations at IAR, a perfect solution presented itself. A visitor who'd brought her pet dog to the outpatients clinic was introduced to Pocket. The lady was so enchanted by the little pig and moved by his sorry plight that she came up with an idea.

Her friend has a restaurant (of course strictly vegetarian) where there are always plenty of leftover vegetables and fruit and lots of other lovely things for a growing young pig to munch on, and importantly also a secure place where Pocket could live safely.

So sweet Pocket, with help from IAR, not only found a loving home but also a great career as a live waste disposal unit... he truly landed on his trotters!

That's all for now... until next time!

Love from me,

Olive x

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Datia's incredible journey

Hello hello!

My story today is of Datia the traveller: a little dog that has gone further in his short life than most Indian people go in an entire lifetime - let alone most other stray dogs, however bold and adventurous they may be! His life began miles away from Goa in the north Indian town of Datia in the state of Madhya Pradesh about nine months ago.

Datia as a puppyMeanwhile at the same time Swedish couple Elvira and Kotte were soon to embark on their adventurous motor cycle tour of India. The last thing they envisaged was a little furry passenger who would become their constant companion for the next few months. But early in their travels they came across an abandoned pup of only a few weeks old and with no one to care for him, so what could they do? They named him after the place he was found and all three set off into the sunset.

Datia was loved and cared for and, from his safe position seated between Elvira and Kotte on the bike, saw more of India than most of us can ever hope to. With the couple's devotion Datia thrived and grew to be a healthy confident pup that would have otherwise surely perished.

Datia and Dorothy meet, thanks to Elvira and KotteSome months later the trio arrived in Goa. But Elvira and Kotte's time in India was drawing to a close and they knew that Datia had to find someone else to love and care for him. Whilst they put up posters and searched for such a home, Elvira and Kotte had Datia wormed and vaccinated at IAR Goa and asked for their help. I know as well as anyone that rehoming animals is a constant issue for IAR as there are far more needy cats and dogs than there are good available homes. And not all of them can be as lucky as I was to find a loving home among kind people who understand dogs and know what we need to keep us healthy and happy.

But elsewhere in Little Vagator there are a group of neighbours who live in a quiet residential area. Here IAR had recently managed to successfully home several pups and kittens to loving families. Another local neighbour Dorothy, seeing these lovely cats and dogs with her friends, thought that she too could offer the right dog a home.

So Dorothy was shown some photos of the handsome pup who came from so far away and had travelled most of his life through India. Next day Elvira, Kotte and Datia went to meet Dorothy to see how they all got along.

Datia all grown up!They need not have worried, it was love at first sight, and when he was put into Dorothy's arms Kotte managed to snap a photo of Datia's first typically enthusiastic kiss.

So it was with much sadness but extreme relief that Elvira and Kotte said goodbye and left their little friend with his new mum.

Dorothy and all the other local people who adopt a rescued animal will receive free support and medical treatment from IAR for the first year. Of course Datia, now a typical naughty adolescent, has since been sterilised and is settled, healthy and happily living in his new community.

We can never know how much of his epic journey Datia will remember, but it's certain that he is now in the best place he could ever have dreamt of thanks to a caring couple of travellers and everyone at IAR Goa.

Thank goodness for the kindness and generosity of the human race (well some of them at least!) Without their donations IAR simply couldn't continue to offer this aftercare for the adopted animals they have managed to find homes for.

Good luck Datia - stay in touch!


Olive x

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Finally a forever home for two boisterous brothers!

Hello hello,

It's a sad fact that from time to time animals end up back at the IAR centre here in Goa for reasons that are beyond everyone's control. Ronnie and Reggie are two such animals. They are brothers and came back to us at about five months old, when the lady who adopted them as young pups became disabled and was no longer able to care for this lively young pair.

Reggie and RonnieThis put the young dogs into a category known as 're-homers' - not good news for many animals. If a dog or cat has been a household pet, he or she cannot then go to live in a feral environment, so if another home can't be found there's no long term place for them to go. And as large, feisty, half grown pups Ron and Reg were not the kind of pets that people usually adopt: most come looking for cute puppies and kittens.

But back in Vagator there is a restaurant that is open year round and an animal-loving chef named Sunil works there. IAR's work controlling the dog population is massively successful in the area and consequently there are few pups around that can join a naturally depleting, non-breeding pack. Sunil found that he had far more spare food than was needed to feed the existing beach pack that he is caretaker of: so right at the time when we were all hoping for a miracle to save Reggie and Ronnie, the centre was asked to supply two healthy, sterilised, vaccinated young dogs to join the Vagator pack.

Reggie and Ronnie's new familyAs Reggie and Ronnie had already had so much disruption in their short adolescent lives, it was agreed that a transition period would help them before they were let loose into yet another new environment. The brothers went to spend some time in an IAR-approved foster home where they could be socialised and observed to ensure they were absolutely fit and healthy and wouldn't disrupt or infect the healthy Vagator pack.

Some days later the boys were at last introduced to Sunil, the other dogs and their new home. They were confined for a while, until they associated this, yet another new place, as home. Then the brothers were released into what must be any dog's idea of heaven.

Reggie and Ronnie enjoying their new lifeThey have a wide expanse of beach to run freely on and explore, a new canine family pack headed by the alpha female Khali who was instantly accepting and protective of them. And they have food and shelter as and when they desire it provided by Sunil who in turn has the support and back up of IAR should he need help with any of the dogs.

So Reggie and Ronnie at last have a forever home, albeit not a conventional house but as members of a happy, healthy pack, with the continued care and love of a human caretaker and the IAR centre. A well-deserved happy ending for the two boisterous brothers, and I couldn't be happier for them!

Love from me,

Olive x

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Raising Alexi

Hello friends,

I feel sure you'll like my latest story: recently a man presented himself at our outpatients department with a small sick bird that was in need of help. It was a poor young parrot of only a few weeks old, unable even to stand or feed itself. I saw him for myself and a sorry sight he was!

Alexi the baby ParakeetIt is illegal to keep any indigenous wild animal or bird in Goa, so this baby was taken into the safe custody of the rescue centre.

The vets identified him as an Alexandrine Parakeet, not a native bird of Goa but originating from elsewhere in India where this baby was probably stolen from its mother.

His future was uncertain but the team was determined to do all they could to nurture this parrot and help him survive. He was named Alexi and all the staff, but particularly Manik and Abbey, took turns to feed and give him water at very regular intervals. Alexi soon began to grow and thrive but his appetite and social demands grew with him! He proved seriously high maintenance!

Alexi gets a helping hand with feedingSo at present he is being fostered at a safe home nearby where his needs are catered for as closely as possible to mimic the relationship he would have had in the wild with his parents. They would normally be in attendance for up to three years, the age when an Alexandrine becomes mature and independent.

After weeks of being hand fed, Alexi is now helping himself to his favourite foods, which are at present mango, guava, chillies and lightly poached dahl with peas and carrots cut into Alexi-beak sized pieces.

Alexi is growing up healthy and strongHe just loves to be touched and likes to climb, chew, flap his growing wings and bounce and chuckle with joy at bath time.

As Alexi is not a domestic creature it would be lovely eventually to release him into the wild, but there are no others of his species here in Goa and he has become tame and domesticated as a result of having to be hand reared. So his future may be in a suitable sanctuary where he could live happily for as long as the next four decades.

One thing's for sure, he wouldn't have lasted much longer without the treatment and care of the team at the centre. I hope things continue to go well for Alexi, he's a bright little bird with a real zest for life now he's in good hands.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The centre gets set for tough times ahead

Dear Friends,

Olive drinking from the watered plants potThe season has drawn to an end here in Goa and most of the foreign tourists have gone home. The weather is getting hotter and more humid and it takes its toll on both 2 and 4 legged creatures. All us dogs here at Animal Tracks are queuing up for the best places in the shade and if you’re not fast someone else will have taken your favourite spot. With so many centre dogs around there also tends to be a line for the water bowls so I like to nip round the front court when the plants have been watered and have a drink there... no one else likes that idea so I’m left in peace.

Puppies awaiting adoptionAs always the coming of the monsoon means extra work for the staff at the centre. When most of the beach shacks and restaurants shut down along the tourist strip many dogs that have been well fed during the season are left without food and they therefore take to the villages in search for something to eat. Here they get into fights with packs of dogs already occupying the territory and sometimes they inflict terrible wounds on one another. Without proper food females become weak and unable to care for their pups and whenever possible families are brought to the centre to be cared for until the pups are old enough to be put up for adoption.

It is a pattern which repeats itself every year and luckily it is anticipated so resources are set aside to cope with the increase of starving, injured and orphan dogs during the coming months. Homes are found every day for abandoned pups which would have stood only a slim chance of making it on their own and vets are working tirelessly at sterilizing the stray dogs so the numbers don’t increase. Every so often some new members are added to our centre dog gang and we always welcome new arrivals. I just hope that one day no dog living on the street will have to worry about where the next meal is coming from.

Lots of love,

Olive x

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Stella and Amelie get the Animal Tracks treatment

Hello dear friends,

Stella loves being cuddledPlease say hello to Stella and Amelie, two patients at Animal Tracks who have been with us for a while. Poor Stella had an accident and broke her leg but luckily someone saw her hobbling around and called our number. Stella was brought in and had to undergo some really clever orthopaedic surgery to mend her broken bone. The healing process for this kind of surgery is very long so it is very important that patients who have to be with us for several weeks receive lots of special care and attention. Luckily many volunteers come to the centre to offer their company to the dogs. Those like Stella who cannot be walked are cuddled and given treats and Stella soon settled in and became very friendly with everyone. She is now almost ready to go back to Arpora where she came from and be reunited with all her friends there. Naturally, she has also been sterilised and vaccinated against rabies so her future life can be happy and trouble free.

Amelie is looking for her forever homeAmelie was brought in from Candolim. She was fit and healthy…a little too fit and healthy because she was chasing and killing chickens and piglets in the village, much to the distress of the local residents! Once someone tried to catch her but she got frightened and bit the person and that was the last straw for the villagers. They called the IAR office and asked for Amelie to be removed. Situations like these are always difficult because we dogs cannot simply be moved from one area to another. Stray dogs are very territorial and will fight a newcomer to the death if necessary. Hence Amelie was brought to Animal Tracks where her temper was assessed to decide what further action was appropriate. It turns out that Amelie is actually a very sweet and active dog and without a doubt if given to the right home a perfect guard dog and playful friend. She is currently waiting for such a home to be found and in the meantime staff and volunteers make sure she gets lots of attention and stimulation. I hope to write and tell you soon that a good home has been found for her.

Bye for now!

Olive x

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Update on Pinky and Perky

Hello everybody!

I thought I'd take the opportunity today to give you a brief update on our two friends Pinky and Perky who have been with us at Animal Tracks for quite some time now.

Pinky and PerkyThese two pigs were reared as babies by a couple living in Goa but they were forced to give them up owing to circumstances beyond their control and brought them to the centre in the hope that a new home could be found for them. Well, more than one year has passed and they are still with us and have become part of the team here. They have had their very own pen built for them where they laze about all day and visitors love popping over to say hello.

As time goes by it is going to become more and more difficult to say goodbye to Pinky and Perky and all the staff and animals here have become so attached to them that I doubt we’ll ever agree that another home is good enough! Their health is good, they are well cared for and get lots of attention from everybody and they’ve often told me how happy and lucky they feel to have ended up here as opposed to being surrendered to an unknown fate.

Lots of love,

Olive x

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Fallen Fish Eagle recovers from fracture

Dear Friends,

Alongside the daily work of looking after and treating all us domestic dogs, cats and cattle, the vets at Animal Tracks frequently encounter cases involving wild animals that are in need of help. Numerous reptiles, rodents and birds pass through our gates every year and each one benefits from the special expertise of our highly qualified veterinary team.

Injured Fish EagleTake this young Fish Eagle for example. He was found fallen from a tree, unable to fly because the fall had resulted in a fracture to his leg. He was brought to the centre and it was quickly assessed that orthopaedic surgery was needed. As you can imagine this was going to be a very delicate operation on such an animal! The surgery was successful and the eagle now has to recover before any attempts at releasing him are made.

Being very young the process of releasing the eagle will be gradual and carefully supervised. He needs to learn to fly again and his ability to survive in the wild has to be assessed. The Fish Eagle is a protected species in India and it is common that they use the Western coast surrounding Goa as their nesting area. If all goes well this handsome chap will make a full recovery and fly off to his natural habitat in the next couple of months.

Love from me,

Olive x

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Dr Astrid gets the point after cat Mitsy swallows a needle!

Hello everyone!

After my last shocker of a story I think it's time for something a little less heartbreaking and with an instant happy ending. It is about another cat which ran into a bit of misfortune. Gosh, I'm so glad I’ve been born a dog! These cats just seem to be followed around by bad luck these days!

Mitsy the catThis cat, Mitsy, was unlucky enough to somehow manage to swallow a needle! No one knows how the needle got into her throat but luckily she was brought to the centre before it had done too much damage. Dr Astrid was on duty and she immediately took an x-ray of Mitsy's throat to assess the injury. Her initial assumption was that the needle would have to be surgically removed so she got herself ready to start the procedure.

Mitsy the cat under anaestheticMitsy was sedated and before commencing the surgery Dr Astrid put her fingers inside Mitsy's throat to see if she was able to reach the needle. As she did this she actually managed to catch the needle and pull it out without causing any trauma to Mitsy's throat and Mitsy has now made a full recovery without having to have an operation. Lucky for Mitsy - that must surely have cost her one of her nine lives. Let's hope she's not as careless with the rest of them!

Bye for now!

Love Olive x

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Cat in a trap

Dear friends

I know it has been a while since I've been in touch but rest assured that it has not been because we haven't been busy here at Animal Tracks. Countless animals are continuing to receive help and treatment and the number of dogs who walk the streets with a clip in their ear to identify that they have been sterilised and vaccinated is rising every day.

Cat with leg caught in trapI am not going to write to you about dogs today however. I warn you now because this story is not for the faint-hearted. It does however tell you something about the nature of some people and how lucky it is for the animals that IAR is around to help.

This story is about a call which came in one morning from a local resident in the town of Mapusa. He told us that a cat had been caught in a leg trap and needed help. All drivers were out attending other calls but fortunately IAR Chairman John Hicks was in the office when the call came in and he immediately drove off to respond to the message. What he found on arrival is almost unbearable to describe. The poor cat in the trap turned out to be owned by the person who notified IAR! He himself had set the trap (for reasons unknown) and the cat had been caught in the trap the evening prior to him making the call! One can only try to guess what thoughts had gone through his mind when he failed to rescue the cat straight away. He even admitted that he only made the call to our centre when the cat's screams had begun to annoy him too much!

Cat under anaesthetic prior to removing the trapThe trap was immediately removed by John Hicks and the cat was brought to the centre with severe injuries. It is still undergoing treatment and I shall do my best to update you of its progress. In the meantime the owner of this poor darling has called up the centre to ask to have the trap returned to him. I am not going to recite the reply of John Hicks but I can tell you that the leg trap is still here at the centre. It has been hung on display in our information centre along with photos of the cat and a message urging people to stop using these barbaric instruments.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that this little cat makes a full recovery so it can enjoy the rest of its life happy and free from danger and pain.

Love from me,

Olive x

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A pig and a python both have a lucky escape

PythonNow here's something you don't see every day! My story today is one where several animals and humans could have been seriously harmed but as if by miracle everyone escaped with none or just minor injuries.

The staff at Animal Tracks received a call one day from an officer with the Forestry Department, Sainath, who had rescued a python which needed medical treatment. Among many other things the Forestry Department rescue local wildlife and they often consult with the vets here at the centre so sometimes injured wild animals are brought to us here in Assagao.

This python had decided to have a medium sized pig for lunch but forgot to take the pig's owner into consideration when attacking it. As the python attempted to devour the pig the distraught owner was looking for any means to scare the python away and rescue his pig.

Python being treated for his injuriesThe only thing he had to hand was a knife which he stuck in the python's head! Startled - but alive - the python let go of the pig (which ran off alive but shocked) and the owner then quickly called the Forestry Department to have the injured python removed. Since the python needed treatment for the wound inflicted by the knife it ended up here with us where it is still undergoing treatment. Once recovered the python will be released back into the wild away from local villages and built up areas.

As you can see this story could have had a much graver ending. The pig could have died from the python's attack, the python could have died from being stabbed, and the owner of the pig put himself in a dangerous position by approaching the big attacking python. Phew! I'm glad this story had a happy ending for everyone.

Bye for now,

Olive x